Anxiety from Obesity as Severe as Other Forms of Anxiety

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Those persons’ who have a social anxiety born out of obesity, are demonstrating in many instances the same level of anxiety as persons suffering from social anxiety disorder (SAD) according to new research collated by Rhode Island Hospital Researchers.

These findings are going against the grain of modern thought pertaining to SAD and conflict with the SAD criteria as lain down by the Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders.

The manual dictates that it is only when there is no link to a medical condition, can a person who has a medical condition be diagnosed with SAD.

Change Afoot

However a workgroup who are in charge of a new chapter of this Manual have made a recommendation that there should be an amendment in this instance. A modifying of the criteria needs to be made to meet the needs of many with medical conditions whose actual level of anxiety experienced is excessive.

In effect this workgroup are making a space for persons with medical conditions, be they stutters, Parkinsons Disease, obesity or otherwise to be diagnosed based on the severity of the anxiety they suffer in society.

Stutterers Covered

Several studies have been conducted on persons who stutter in relation to their social anxiety levels, however new research by scientists at Rhode Island Hospital have for the first time published research into the severe level of social anxiety experienced by obese persons.

Research Method

For the research, an evaluation of close to 800 persons was made. 135 individuals, all of whom had been diagnosed with DSM-IV SAD were the first to be taken. Kristy Dalrymple led the study. In this study 40 persons who had anxiety levels leaving them diagnosed as (modified SAD) pertaining to their experiencing anxiety due to their weight only, and also 616 persons with no psychiatric disorder history.

The two SAD groups were found to have had a very bad capability in functioning socially whilst in adolescence, compared to the group who had shown no history of disorder, in this case there was no difference between the two different SAD groupings.

They were queried on the last five years of their lives, similar results were found in this period. The SAD group were also recognised as having spent a great many more work days absent as a consequence of their emotional and psychopathology reasons, than either the healthy subjects or the modified SAD group.

Higher Social Life Disruption

Results were also demonstrated, as showing that the persons in the SAD group that was modified, did experience more disruption. They showed a significantly higher disruption in their social life and demonstrated much more distress in their social anxiety than did the healthy group or indeed the regular SAD group.

Not by the Book

Study creator Dalrymple, said in relation to this finding that it was an interesting point to note how there were greater disruptions to social life in the modified SAD grouping. It was surprising that this was more evident in the modified grouping, as indeed it did go against what the manual says.

The suggestion is that the level of impairment is just as high, if not worse than regular SAD in the modified SAD group; this was in spite of their impairment being obesity only. The scientist went on to offer potential reasons behind the cut in social life standard. She said it may be down to recent weight changes i.e. occurring over a short period of time, meaning that there has been less time to adapt to the changes, than say someone who developed SAD years ago would have had. In a way it is natural that this would be more disturbing for them than if it the social anxiety had been experienced in a generalised form for years.

Benefit from Treatment

It was concluded that perhaps these individuals could benefit from treatment of the SAD disorder, and therefore it is being decided to indeed enter this source of SAD symptoms as a precursor to SAD itself in the training manual, and through its being diagnosed it can then be treated.

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